Southampton 0-2 Liverpool: Coutinho stunner sets tone at rain-soaked St. Mary’s

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It was a soggy day at St. Mary’s, and fans who braved the rain, wind, and cold saw their Saints fall victim to Liverpool as a Philippe Coutinho stunner set the tone and Raheem Sterling finished things off.

Things started straight away as Filip Djuricic, just 15 seconds into his Southampton debut, went to ground under a challenge from Emre Can, but referee Kevin Friend shook his head and waved things away. It was a chancy moment, as Can may have pulled Djuricic back, but the Serbian was looking to the referee before he hit the ground.

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Then on the other end, things exploded just three minutes in. Lazar Markovic found Coutinho, who ripped a homing missile from 30 yards out that found the corner, clipping the underside of the bar and bounding into the net for a Liverpool lead.

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The excitement continued as Southampton again had a scrum in front of the box a minute later. Djuricic went down again under a clattering tackle from Joe Allen in the box, but Kevin Friend shook his head again despite this one looking much more clearly a foul. Eljero Elia’s follow-up was blocked, and the chance evaporated.

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It all seemed to slow down from there, as Liverpool focused on build-up play and Southampton tried to lump the ball forward to Pelle, and neither produced much across the half-hour mark. The home fans felt very hard done by the refereeing team, as Simon Mignolet stuffed Eljero Elia on a breakaway, but appeared to have possibly handed the ball outside his box. Moments later a header from Maya Yoshida off a corner hit the arm of Dejan Lovren, but it would have been harsh to give the penalty with the defender’s arm in a natural position by his side.

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Jose Fonte got away with a testy challenge as well, having scythed down Raheem Sterling in the box, but Kevin Friend again let one go as well, saying Fonte got the ball. That brought us to halftime, and the second half was chippy but not terribly eventful until time wound down.

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With 17 minutes left, Liverpool picked up a bit of a lucky second goal. Raheem Sterling and Alberto Moreno, both on as second-half substitutions, combined to win the ball in the Southampton half. Moreno’s ball into the box came to Saints defender Matt Targett, but with the field conditions terrible in the pouring rain, Targett’s feet betrayed him and he fell to ground. The ball squirted to Sterling, and he buried the chance.

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That would do it for Southampton, with possession but not creativity to their credit on the day. The win is big for Liverpool, who jump Tottenham to reclaim sixth place in the table. But the missed opportunity for Southampton is bigger. A win could have sent them third in the table past Arsenal and Manchester United. Instead, they remain a point back of the Red Devils in fifth place, unable to take advantage of United’s similar stumble this weekend.

LINEUPS

Southampton: Forster, Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Targett, Wanyama, S. Davis (Schneiderlin 46′), Ward-Prowse (Mane 57′), Djuričić (Tadic 75′), Elia, Pellè.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Can, Skrtel, Lovren, Henderson, Allen, Markovic (Moreno 46′), Ibe (Johnson 75′), Lallana (Sturridge 62′), Coutinho, Sterling.

Goals: Coutinho 3′, Sterling 73′